The jury in the federal trial for two prison guards at the Western Illinois Correctional Center in Mount Sterling was sent home Tuesday morning because of “technical difficulties” and won’t return to Springfield until Friday.
The jury trial of 53 year old Todd Sheffler of Mendon and 30 year old Alex Banta of Quincy has been delayed until Friday because Banta is in an intensive care unit with an undisclosed illness, according to Muddy River News. Banta’s mother, Lisa Banta, was also expected to appear by video in the trial yesterday but technical difficulties pre-empted her appearance causing Judge Sue E. Myerscough to clear the courtroom.
Testimony was expected to wrap up Tuesday. Closing arguments were expected to begin in the afternoon. The trial began on March 28th.
Both Sheffler and Banta could face up to life in prison after allegedly beating 65 year old inmate Larry Earvin on May 17, 2018. Earvin would die from blunt force trauma injuries on June 26th. Sheffler and Banta were indicted along with fellow guard Willie Hedden in December 2019. Hedden pled guilty to his role in the incident and alleged ensuing cover up. Hedden has been a witness for the federal government in the case.
The indictment in 2019 has since revealed 9 other people who reported similar stories to Earvin’s — beatings, often in the same part of the prison, sometimes even by the same guards. WBEZ in Chicago first reported the numerous other cases after an investigative report.